For the film’s 25th anniversary, Vulture compiled an oral history of Contact, the sci-fi movie that defied Hollywood norms and made it big anyway. Here are Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey:
Foster: Nobody was computer literate at the time. I remember the first day with the technical adviser, [“We had Gerry Griffin on the movie,” Zemeckis said, “who was the flight director for Apollo 12.”] I’d say, “I don’t understand. What am I doing at my computer?” He sat down and told me, and it took 25 minutes and I didn’t understand anything. Bob came in and said, “Okay, no, no, no. You’re going to hit that key, and then that key and then that key.” I kept wanting to understand, and there was just no way.
Carl was there once during production. He came and gave us a lecture about the cosmos. He wore a little turtleneck, and we got to ask him questions.
McConaughey: We got to be a captive audience to Carl Sagan taking us through the beginning of the world. If I remember correctly, it was like, [It was actually like this.] “If you take a clock and you were looking at it two-dimensionally, it would be at the tip of the left corner of the top of the five on the clock. That’s our galaxy that we’re in. It’s ever expanding, and there are many universes.”
I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Everything he had said was filling me up and making me more of a believer than I already was. He got to the very end and he goes, “And therefore God doesn’t exist.” I went, “Wait a minute. You had me believing God existed more than ever, and that’s your punch line?” He was like, “Yep. I’d love to discuss it.”